Each year teenagers around the world, or more accurately their parents, spend hard-earned money on acne treatments that simply don’t work. But what if the answer to clear skin laid not in a clean face but a dirty one? Working on this premise, the skin company AOBiome LLC has created a topical solution they predict will be used to treat everything from pimples to chronic wounds, but you won’t believe its main ingredient: underarm bacteria.

Have you ever wondered why sweaty underarms smell? Bacteria in our underarms feed off the ammonia we naturally produce in our sweat. The most noticeable by-product of this ammonia consumption is, of course, the unpleasant smell we associate with sweaty underarms. However, smell isn’t the only byproduct of the sweat-eating bacteria.

Researchers have discovered that they also have the uncanny ability to improve overall skin health. Unfortunately, due to our society’s fixation on cleanliness, these “good” bacteria that naturally run rampant over our skin’s surface are now nearly undetectable. In their latest study, researchers from AOBiome LLC decided to find out what would happen if these ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) were to suddenly appear on the human face.

Although the idea of purposely applying underarm bacteria to one’s face is anything from pleasant, AOBiome managed to find 24 volunteers who were up for the challenge, according to the press release. The researchers used the Nitrosomonas eutropha strain isolated from organic soil samples and had the volunteers apply the bacterium on their face and scalp for a while, abstaining from cleansing products for two weeks. On the third week, the volunteers’ faces were reanalyzed.

Results showed that the volunteers who used the AOB have “qualitative improvements in skin condition.” Compare this with the control group, which reported either no improvement or minimal, and it seems like these AOBiome scientists might just be onto something.

“This study shows that live Nitrosomonas are well tolerated and may hold promise as novel, self-regulating topical delivery agents of nitrite and nitric oxide to the human skin," explained AOBiome’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Larry Weiss, in the press release. Also, it is important to note that none of those involved in the study experienced any adverse effects from the AOB cream.

This isn’t the first study to show the skin-healing possibilities of bacteria. In May, New York Times journalist Julia Scott shocked the masses when she chose to abstain from showering for an entire month and rely only on AOBiome’s A+Refreshing Cosmetic Mist to keep her “clean.” The journalist reported that other than suffering from oily hair, cleansing with the bacteria-rich mist actually helped to keep her skin smooth and prevented her from developing foul body odor.

“My skin began to change for the better. It actually became softer and smoother, rather than dry and flaky, as though a sauna’s worth of humidity had penetrated my winter-hardened shell. And my complexion, prone to hormone-related breakouts, was clear. For the first time ever, my pores seemed to shrink,” Scott wrote in her New York Times article.

The AOBiome researchers are not restricting the bacteria’s benefit to just clean and beautiful skin; they report their next step is to conduct clinical trials to assess the therapeutic potential in patients with diabetic ulcers as well as acne. Diabetic mice with skin wounds were already found to heal more quickly after two weeks of AOB treatment.

Our understanding of the delicate balance between the human body and bacteria is still in its infancy, but if trial results are any proof, a showerless future may soon be upon us.

The study’s results were presented at the 5th ASM Conference on Beneficial Microbes in Washington, D.C.